Century Marks

Century Marks

Sacred and profane

The Solo­vet­sky Monastery is one of Russia's most important. Founded early in the 15th century by two monks in search of solitude and seclusion, it is located on the largest of the Solovetsky Islands, 650 miles north of Moscow, just outside the Arctic Circle. Even before the Soviet era the monastery contained prison cells for enemies of the authoritarian czars. The monks served as prison wardens. Stalin turned the monastery into a gulag where he brutally imprisoned his most hated enemies. Half of the some 80,000 prisoners it held between 1923 and 1939 died there. The Soviets opened a museum at Solovetsky in 1967, and in 1990 monks reclaimed the monastery (The Atlantic, January/February).

Drive-through

Last month a car drove through the front doors of the Happy Corner Church of the Brethren in Clayton, Ohio. The driver drove the car around the sanctuary, causing extensive damage. The driver then abandoned the car, which was thought to have been stolen (WDTN, January 19).

Missionary competition

Evangelicals have long had an antipathy toward Mormons, considering their religion a cult. But neither doctrinal differences nor Mormonism's onetime endorsement of polygamy account fully for contemporary evangelicals' misgivings about the Church of the Latter-day Saints. David S. Reynolds points out that both evangelicals and Mormons are missionary-minded. The growth in number of and competition for proselytes by Mormons pose a threat to evangelicals' own missionary impulses. Mormons have missionaries in 162 countries and a church membership of about 14 million (New York Times, January 25).

Charity

Tim DeChristopher, an environmental activist, was found guilty of making false statements and of violating the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act. He was charged with subverting the leasing of publicly owned lands in Utah to gas and oil companies. DeChristopher's strategy was to outbid the companies in an auction, even though he didn't have the means to lease the land. When he appeared in court to receive his sentence, he gave a passionate speech defending his actions. Then he turned to the judge and said, "This is what love looks like" (Orion, January/February).

Family man

President Obama has been accused of being aloof and not schmoozing enough with members of Congress and other movers and shakers in Washington. The president defended himself recently in a Time magazine interview: "I've got a 13-year-old and 10-year-old daughter and so, no, Michelle and I don't do the social scene, because as busy as we are, we have a limited amount of time, and we want to be good parents at a time that's vitally important for our kids" (Time, January 30).